(Written by Shane Goldmacher)
Michael Bloomberg, the billionaire former mayor of New York City, spent at least $30 million Friday for a single week of television ads, a show of financial force that signals his willingness to use his vast personal fortune to reshape the Democratic presidential race.
The 60-second biographical commercials will begin Monday in more than two dozen states and roughly 100 news media markets from California to Maine.
Rivals were quick to condemn Bloomberg, 77, for leveraging his personal fortune to sway the race.
“I’m disgusted by the idea that Michael Bloomberg or any other billionaire thinks they can circumvent the political process and spend tens of millions of dollars to buy our elections,” Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont said.
The new television campaign provides a hint of how Bloomberg will focus his resources beyond the early voting states. He will spend $1.6 million in New York City, $1.5 million in Los Angeles, $1.2 million in Houston, $1.1 million in Miami and $794,000 in Boston in an eight-day period, according to Advertising Analytics, a media-tracking company.
Bloomberg was not overlooking smaller states, either. He had booked $52,000 in ads, for instance, in Fargo, North Dakota; and $59,000 in Biloxi, Mississippi.
Bloomberg has not officially announced he is running for president, though this week he filed a formal “statement of candidacy” with the Federal Election Commission.
His expected entry has injected a new element of uncertainty into the race, highlighting its fluidity as well as the angst among many moderate Democrats that the field has moved too far left, and that former Vice President Joe Biden is poorly positioned to win.
The ad buy is the latest in a series of steps that Bloomberg, who has flirted with past presidential runs but has always demurred, has taken before formally declaring his bid.
He has filed to be on the ballot in Arkansas, Alabama and Texas. He announced a $100 million digital ad campaign against President Donald Trump this month and launched a $15 million voter registration drive. And he went to a predominantly black church Sunday and apologized for his long embrace of stop-and-frisk police tactics that disproportionately impacted blacks and Latinos during his mayoralty.
“I was wrong,” Bloomberg said, in a speech that has been his only public remarks since he reemerged as a possible presidential candidate. “And I am sorry.”
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